Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Every Content Marketer Should End their Year with This


There’s no better time than the end of the year to take a good look at your brand’s performance. In fact, that’s where year-end reviews come from. But rather than just focus on the performance and efficiency of your employees and operations, content marketers should also be extending their evaluations to the strategies and blogs they use.

If you’re like me, the bulk of your day-to-day tasks are likely centered around the content you produce. Whatever processes you have for researching, brain storming, and ultimately drafting for your content marketing strategy, they all will likely benefit from some review. It’s typical for those day-to-day tasks to suffer as the year progresses, and taking the time to go over how you do what you do and how effective it really is can set you up for greater success in 2017. Here’s how content marketers can do a year-end review for their content marketing strategy.

  1. Start with an audit.

The best way to start your content marketing review is to gather all your content so you can take a good look at it. I keep track of my published articles in a spreadsheet as well as my Google analytics account. By rounding up all of the blogs, guest posts, social media campaigns, and other noteworthy content production efforts you made in 2016, you can see a complete picture of what your strategy looked like.

  1. Look at the numbers.

One of the most important things you can do not just yearly but on a regular basis is see what the numbers have to say. If you’re a blogger, taking a good look at how each different pieces of content perform is a crucial part of understanding how you’re most effective. What does Google analytics show you about the content you produce? Which pieces got the most traffic, and why? Your main objective should be to judge content performance by the data, and use what you learn to strategize more effectively in 2017.

  1. Determine what does and does not work.

Sometimes you get comfortable doing the same kind of content over and over and fail to realize that it’s not resonating with your audience. In reviewing your content marketing strategy, be mindful of what simply doesn’t work. Are your listicles falling flat? Are certain topics getting more traffic than others? Try and identify common themes in your most successful and most unsuccessful content, and use what’s working to plan future pieces.

  1. Make a plan for 2017.

There’s no point in doing a review of your content marketing strategy if you aren’t going to use the insights you’ve gained to plan for a better year. Looking at your content marketing strategy with a critical eye will show you exactly what you need to focus on in 2017. Even consulting a similar content marketer or someone you work with can help you find the most impactful ways to reach people, and you can tailor your new year of content to better reach your audience.

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Thursday, 22 December 2016

Top 2 Reasons Shoppers Abandon Their Carts


I’ll be the first to admit that I’m an online retailer’s worst nightmare. On more occasions than I care to count, I’ve found myself browsing through page after page of online stores, adding items to my cart, and then abandoning it altogether come checkout time. While it isn’t always to the fault of the retailer, the problem of abandoned shopping carts is widely shared across e-commerce sites.

Sometimes it’s just the nature of the buyer, but in many cases, there’s a part of the user experience that deters them from completing the checkout process. The months between September and February are some of the most shopping-heavy points of the year, which means we’re currently knee deep in e-commerce season. If you’ve been noticing spikes in shopping cart abandonment, it may be one of these common issues.

  1. Complicated check-out process.

Obviously, a complicated check-out process that requires users to jump through a bunch of hoops to make a purchase will result in shopping cart abandonment. But what many people don’t realize is that even the slightest deviation from simplicity can turn a customer off from fulfilling their purchase. Here’s an example of how this happens with me:

Me: Fills cart with items, clicks check out, begins filling in information fields (Name, address, etc.). Sees “Company Name” field. Immediately closes out of browser.

Don’t ask me why, but even the tiniest request for unnecessary information, specifically the “Company Name” field, makes me not want to put my personal information in. It sounds crazy, but studies have actually shown that the less information you require users to enter, the higher percentages of conversions you’ll see.

How to fix it: To ensure that you have a clean, simplified check-out process, start by making sure it’s broken up into bite sized chunks. Common steps include a section for entering information personal info (name, email address), a section for entering shipping information, and a section for payment-three simplified steps. In each section, make sure there aren’t any excess fields for users to fill in. Try and get them from purchasing to the confirmation page in as few clicks as possible.

  1. Lack of incentive.

If you’re really trying to push users over the shopping cart abandonment hump, a little incentive goes a long way. Believe it or not, many customers actually factor incentivized deals into their decision making process when finalizing their purchase.

More and more, consumers have started looking at shipping costs as an additional tax. That’s why membership programs like Amazon Prime and Zappos Premium are so successful-because they eliminate several steps from the online buying process and often include shipping for free.

Another frequently seen problem is the “coupon code” field some check-out processes display. If the user doesn’t have a promo or coupon code, there’s a good chance they’ll start scanning the internet to find one, or abandon their shopping cart because they feel like they’re over paying.

How to fix it: Incentivize purchases however you can. You might even consider factoring shipping into the cost of the items you sell online, because people will see “free shipping” and conclude that it’s a more cost-effective purchase. Another possibility is to offer rewards or added incentives with every purchase. For example, if you do have the promo/coupon code field, but the user doesn’t have a coupon, maybe include a note underneath that says “10% off your next purchase if you order now” or “refer a friend to get $10 off this purchase.” The tiniest nudge can be all users need to get through that check out process.

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Wednesday, 21 December 2016

What Not to Waste Your Time On in 2017


The end of the year is closing in, which means you’ll be seeing dozens of articles similarly titled to this one. Some will even take the bold stance, luring in readers with catchy headlines like, “CONTENT MARKETING IS DEAD” or “SOCIAL MEDIA IS A WASTE OF YOUR TIME.” But contrary to what these articles would have you believe, few marketing strategies really ever die out completely. Rather, they simply become a less efficient use of your time.

Of course, there are exceptions (cough, Vine, cough), but for the most part, no one can tell you what’s going to be “out” in 2017. Different online platforms and the marketing strategies that fuel them are constantly evolving, just like the preferences and behavior patterns of users collectively. There’s no telling which marketing tactics will make a comeback. There are, however, some not-so-surprising things you can probably go ahead and strike off your to-do list in 2017.

  1. Working for clicks over conversions.

This should be obvious, because clicks are nice, but conversions are better. This is especially important for those investing in any kind of paid search optimization/campaigning, because money is at stake. Above all else, your priority should be to get users to take a certain action (making a purchase, entering contact information, whatever).

Instead of optimizing with the goal of enticing clicks, try and think more holistically about an approach that will have an end result of conversions. Start by addressing common things that hold back conversions, like web design or a poor landing page. Then see that your conversion strategy aligns with your target audience. Whatever you do, don’t waste your time thinking mere clicks are the key to success.

  1. Emphasizing quantity or quality.

Just. Don’t. Do it. Yes, having tons of content can make it seem like you have a surplus of resources on your website, but if they’re all low quality, you’re wasting your time. Having hundreds of pages of thin content will not only not help you get the kind of user engagement you need, but it’s also punishable. Plus, why would you even want to seem spammy?

Your focus should be on quality, original content that contributes to a positive user experience. Google does everything with user experience in mind, and so should you, because that’s the kind of thing that gets rewarded on search engines. In 2017, make quality the focus of your content marketing strategy. Go back and look at where you may have dropped the ball on quality in 2016, and strategize ways to do better going forward.

  1. Avoiding mobile-first/mobile-ready optimization and design.

At this point, if you’re still avoiding mobile optimization, you’re just willfully choosing to set yourself back. Mobile optimization is an undeniable component of browsing behavior, and your participation is required if you want to remain competitive. The good news is that the shift to mobile is so significant that Google has made it pretty easy to switch over to a mobile-first design.

PPC, Google’s expanded text ads that rolled out in August took care of mobile-preferred ads, so now one ad format adjusts across all devices. To thrive through 2017, all you really need to do is make your website mobile-friendly and ensure that it’s locally optimized.

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Friday, 16 December 2016

4 Things That Could Be Holding Back Conversions


There isn’t any one single hack that will boost your conversions and fix problems like abandoned shopping carts. That’s because the things that drive conversions are unique to every website and every product. When conversions are down, many marketers turn to solutions that promise high conversion rates and guarantee a certain outcome. But the issue of conversions is not so simple that it can be turned into a streamlined, one-move-fixes-all type of situation. However, there are certain things you can do to create a page/website that is hospitable to high conversion rates.

These general issues are things that tend to hold back conversions on any website. While correcting them may not be the one stop cure for suffering conversion rates, it can put you on a step in the right direction.

  1. Poor web design.

A weak web design can and will negatively affect your conversion rate, because it directly impacts the way users interact with your site. Poor web design can be attributed to a lack of aesthetics in color and style, outdated organization or look, over-complicated display features, and any other combination of first-impression factors.

Once a user is on your website, an impression is made within a matter of milliseconds. The aesthetics, as well as the user-friendliness of the page, needs to be on point and consistent. Do your users naturally know how to interact with your site pages? Is there a certain spot their eyes gravitate to? Are you using compelling call to action buttons?

  1. Under-developed product/service.

Sometimes when conversion rates suffer, the issue is really within the product or service you’re trying to push. If all the other factors that weigh into the conversion rate of your unique website seem to be fully optimized and the best they can be, it’s probably time to take a closer look at how the product is doing.

An under-developed product or lack of understanding regarding the audience of that product can hamper high conversion rates. To correct this issue, you have to reassess the foundational questions of: Who is the audience I’m trying to market to? Is my product/service a clear and easily communicated fit for that audience? What piece of the product is a deterrent for consumers?

  1. Lack of security/consumer trust.

Consumer trust is one of the single most important elements factored into high conversion rates. In order for a user to be willing to submit the personal information necessary for conversions, they have to be able to recognize your website as being secure. The slightest sign of fraudulence or error, whether it’s sloppy content or a glitch in the checkout process, can make users doubt your legitimacy.

Fortunately, bolstering consumer trust is a fairly uncomplicated thing to do. First and foremost, make your landing pages, check out processes, and website overall as error-free and polished as possible. Then, to counteract consumer fear of scams and theft, add security /business seals. This will show that your site is verified.

  1. Complicated check-out process.

Having friction in your check out process is a good way to end up with abandoned shopping carts and failed conversions. The end goal should be to have a seamless checkout process that involves as minimal information as possible in as timely a manner as possible.

Slow load time during check out, required fields for unnecessary information (ex: “Company Name”), absent or unclear display of shipping or pricing information, and glitchy form submit buttons can dramatically impact conversions. Go through your check out process the way a user would and test how performance against these conversion deterrents.


It’s important to remember that correcting these issues, while helpful, may not completely fix whatever conversion issues you’re having. Your web strategy and approach to conversions should be comprehensive and facilitate the uniqueness of both your brand and audience.

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Monday, 12 December 2016

DIY PPC: Don’t Overlook This Detail


Rather than hiring an agency, many people choose to DIY their PPC and keep it in-house, which is great. But an issue our PPC specialists see with many such businesses is a tendency to neglect the use of ad extensions that can garner the most bang for your buck in a good paid search campaign.

What are Ad Extensions?

Ad extensions are a way to format your ads so they show extra information about your business. In short, it’s basically a way to get the most information into your small piece of digital real estate in which your ads exist. The use of ad extensions improves visibility and value for paid ads by improving CTR and conveying more information across a small space.

The use of ad extensions has proved to be an important part of mobile optimization, because users are often looking for specific bits of information in response to their search queries. For example, a location extension will help someone looking for a product or service nearby find your business or call right from the ad. A review extension might be the determining factor that makes someone click your business over another listing in the search results.

It’s also worth noting that ad extensions tend to positively impact your AdWords quality score. The addition of more information about your business/product/service/promotion/etc. for the user improves the quality of the ad, which thereby improves the quality score. This is why ad extensions are one of the many factors that are weighed in the calculation of the quality score.

Types of Ad Extensions

There are two different types of ad extensions: manual and automated. Manual extensions are obviously those you do yourself, and automated extensions are those that AdWords creates and displays when it predicts that they’ll improve your ad’s performance.

Manual extensions include Apps, Calls, Locations, Reviews, Sitelinks, and Callouts.

Manual1 DIY PPC: Don't Overlook This Detail

Automated extensions include Consumer Ratings, Previous Visits, Seller Ratings, Dynamic Sitelink Extensions, and Dynamic Structure Snippets.

automated1 DIY PPC: Don't Overlook This Detail

Does it cost extra?

Not really, because you still pay based on keywords. So, you’ll get charged as usual for clicks on the ad as well as for certain interactions that extensions provide. As is true with headline clicks, the most you pay is the minimum amount required to keep your extensions and ad position.

Why is this important?

While the inclusion of ad extensions may seem like an obvious thing, many people running their own search campaigns tend to overlook it.

“In many ways, the paid areas of SERPs are even more competitive than the organic results, so advertisers should make use of all the tools at their disposal to give themselves an edge over the competition,” Tim Miller, HigherVisibility’s resident Paid Search Specialist says. “Ensuring you have thoughtful ad extensions in place can make a difference in 1, getting your ads in front of more searchers and 2, resonating with those users to click on your ad instead of another.”

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Friday, 9 December 2016

Is content curation right for you?


Over the past couple of years, blogs have taken off as the most popular and successful way to translate information to users. Aspiring fashion entrepreneur? Start a blog. Business in need of conversions? Start a blog. Everyone feels like they’re dropping the ball or missing out on some huge opportunity by not having a blog.

While I agree that some content marketing strategy is almost always necessary for any brand or business, I don’t think writing a blog is the best move for everyone. In writing your own blog, you commit to producing unique and quality content on a consistent basis-a task that some business and website owners simply don’t have time to do or a budget to hire someone to do it. If that sounds like you, but you also don’t want to miss out on the benefits of having a blog, there is another option.

In lieu of writing your own blog, a better option might be content curation. The difference is that instead of (or in addition to) writing your own blog content, you source information from other places and funnel it through a carefully curated section on your website.

How It Works

Content curation is really not that complicated to practice, which is part of why it’s such an appealing alternative to writing your own blog without content curation. As a starting point, take a good look at your website, services, and products, and try and pull out a common theme. What industry do you fall into? What’s the basis of your marketability? What would clients most benefit from seeing on your website? You’re curating with your audience in mind, so understanding who that audience is and what they need should always be a top priority.

Once you pull out a common theme, whittle it down to the most specific topic relevant to your business or purpose (this will help users find what they’re looking for, too). When you know the exact theme and topic(s) you want to cover, you can start searching for content to support it.

In researching for content to support your theme, keep the following in mind:

  • Quality is an important component of effective content curation
  • “Fluff” content has no benefit to you or your users
  • Only relevant and knowledgeable information should be allowed in your content curation

Research for content curation will involve looking at industry influencers, investigating what keywords users search for, looking at the content of competitors, and digging deep for the best material.

After compiling the best content, you can decide how you want to present it to your users. Content curation can mean different things for different users, so decide early on in this process if content curation will be the bulk of your posting or if you’ll use the practice to supplement your own content.

Regardless of how you choose to present your curated content (reposting, copy and pasting snippets into other content, using different media, etc.), make sure to always appropriately cite the source from which you’re pulling.

So, who should practice content curation?

Anyone, really, but especially those who don’t necessarily have the means to produce their own content regularly. Furthermore, people who are new to blogging and are seeking to make connections with other producers of content might also benefit from content curation. The authority of sharing reputable and quality content can help you establish the credibility you need to later move into your writing your own blog.

If this sounds like a potentially successful content marketing strategy for you, try working it in to your 2017 plans.

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Wednesday, 7 December 2016

News Update: Is Google factoring AMP pages into SERP?


As every digital marketing source has been telling you, user behavior has become increasingly mobile-oriented. The necessity of mobile optimization is now less of a good idea than it is a total necessity for online success-a statement supported by research of user behavior. All of that information is critical, but there’s now an even more important reason to get with the mobile optimization program.

Within the next few months, Google will be creating a separate mobile, “primary” index the search engine uses. At present, there is only one search index of documents. This index will only be used for mobile searches, not desktop searches (though how that’s going to work remains unclear).

What this means is that websites not optimized for mobile will likely suffer from the ranking algorithm, as the documents Google fetches in response to queries will only come from the new, primary mobile index. So, if there was ever a time to make sure your website is mobile-ready, now is it.

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Monday, 5 December 2016

3 Steps to Get Your Blog Writing Back on Track


Every so often, I like to explore different writing exercises and strategies that mix up the content creation process. Online topic saturation can make knowing what to say on your own blog challenging, especially when your competitors are trying to do the same thing.

Something I’ve found really helpful is dedicating one day out of every month to explore new blogs and assess my own, because it refreshes my perspective and re-engages me with the topics I write about. Here’s the three step process I use to do it.

  1. Find 10 new blogs relevant to your industry.

A little exploration goes a long way when it comes to content. By only focusing at your blog and/or the same rotation of news sources, you could be missing out on inspiration, ideas, and most importantly: guest posting opportunities.

Spend some time trying to find new blogs and connections within your industry. Do some searching on reddit, see what sites your competitors are linking to, and browse from link to link freely. In doing so, you’ll find new resources to consider when working on your own blog.

  1. Compile a list of 20 different articles/blog posts that were done well or taught you something new.

Once you find your new resources, read through their blog posts and articles to see what they’ve covered. What kind of titles stuck out to you the most? What’s their writing style? Which articles did you gain the most from and why?

By assembling a list of the articles that stuck out to you the most from an assortment of sources, you can see what you’re drawn to the most as a user. Then, you can use that insight to craft appealing content for your users.

  1. Do a blog audit.

By looking at your blog with a critical eye, you can find and eventually strengthen the weak spots in your content strategy. Start by doing a topical assessment of the subjects you write about, and figure out what you haven’t been covering. Is it the latest industry news? Maybe you’re falling short on providing utility-driven content to users?

Then, take a look at the analytics behind your existing content to determine what your users are responding to. Identify which articles are getting the most traffic, and try and draw out a common theme.

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Friday, 2 December 2016

Is Google+ irrelevant?


In many ways, Google+ is the social platform that never was. Multiple redesigns and the general preference for Facebook, Twitter, and other social apps have rendered Google+ a network of grey area. If you think about it, you never really hear about a video going viral on Google+, or any challenges/trends flooding the platform. But does that mean it lacks all utility?

If you look at the numbers, Google+ still appears to have a decent amount of activity. Data has shown that somewhere around 2.2 billion users are actively posting content on the platform (though other studies claim only 22 million of that figure can be considered truly active users). Despite the ambiguity surrounding the exact number of active users still on the platform, have a few million users does seem to indicate at least some relevance. The question is, relevance for what purpose?

Let’s be upfront about something, Google+ doesn’t have a seat at the social network table. It lacks the feed full of buzz topics element and popular issues that Facebook and Twitter have The top social networks, despite having received their fair share of criticism, are popular as ever.

That being said, the recent-ish relaunch of Google+ seemed to shape up the network significantly. Google+ Communities have served as a great way for businesses to engage with their audience and build interest.

Another feature that was part of the relaunch is Google+ Collections, allows for curation of specific topics and interests. Users can pick and choose the type of content they want to see from different brands and businesses.

The features of the “new” Google+ don’t necessarily have the highly clickable/shareable nature that other networks do. Rather, its purpose seems to exist within the context of businesses interacting with other businesses, and a specific audience of professionals and deliberate users. So, though not entirely irrelevant and even though it’s probably not going anywhere (since it’s already survived 5 years), Google+ may not be a platform where you see huge results from your digital marketing efforts.

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Thursday, 1 December 2016

What You Absolutely Must Do Before Optimizing Anything


As a digital marketing firm and SEO service provider, a mistake we see made all too often by brands is failing to identify the audience they’re targeting. It may sound like a step significantly less important than others throughout the optimization process, but spending time getting to know and understanding your audience is one of the most important things to do.

The key to not just good, but successful and effective digital marketing is knowing who you’re directing your efforts at, how they will respond to those efforts, and so on. But not exploring your audience impacts user experience, and a negative user experience impacts conversions, and fewer conversions directly translates to less profit and reach. See the problem?

Don’t make the mistake of skipping this important optimization step, and if you already have, go back and get to know your users. Here are some starting points.

This is a pretty obvious step, but in a world where most interactions are digitally stream lined, it’s become easy to forget. Conducting research to find out who your audience is should be a top priority, and it can be done in a number of ways. You can study the audience of your competitors and do some digging on social media platforms, get out in the field-wherever that field may be-and dispense surveys, and/or conduct interviews. All of these are great starting points to identifying your target audience.

  1. Break the audience into groups.

You might have one big audience, but more often than not you have multiple groups within your audience at large. A perfect example is Target. Target has something for everyone, and there are multiple audience groups within their audience as a whole. After conducting your research, take a closer look at the types of people you’re targeting. Then, build your advertising and optimization efforts around them.

  1. Find out who’s who.

Yes, I’m talking about the influential leaders that exist within your audience. For example, if your business is in the cosmetic industry, find a make-up tutorial guru who has thousands of followers on Youtube and start a partnership with him or her. There are respected authorities within every industry, and finding a way to reach their audience your audience too.

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Wednesday, 30 November 2016

5 Reasons to Make a PPC Campaign Your Next SEO Move


Hitting a wall in your SEO strategy can make planning your next move kind of hard. But if you’ve exhausted your current SEO strategy and feel like your recent efforts need a ramp-up, it might be time to start exploring the idea of paid search.

I know, it sounds expensive-and intimidating-and is it really more important than the SEO efforts I use to drive organic traffic?

The fact of the matter is, paid search plays an undeniable role in the success of many websites, and in order to rank among top tier competitors, you’re probably going to have to dabble in paid search at some point. Here are 5 reasons to make a PPC campaign your next move.

  1. CTR of paid search is up, up, up!

You may recall last February, when Google eliminated right hand side advertisements. Since the elimination of those ads, paid search CTRs have risen 38%. For just 9 months, that’s a significant increase. The absence of that right hand side gives the paid ads you now see at the top of search results a red carpet for clickability.

  1. Mobile is a must.

As you know by now, user behavior continues to reveal a major shift towards mobile browsing. Google has adjusted to and accounted for this shift by assuming a mobile first design to provide a better experience for users, giving you a great PPC mobile-friendly resource. Within your AdWords account you can adjust for optimized display across any device, including mobile phones.

  1. PPC is a social affair.

Many major advertisers have increased the amount of targeted ads across social platforms. You’ve likely experienced how effective this form of paid search is firsthand, so it should come as no surprise that the share of social media visits produced across the major platforms (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) has also increased significantly.

SocialShares 5 Reasons to Make a PPC Campaign Your Next SEO Move

  1. It works well for newbies.

If you have a relatively new website, PPC has the potential to get you a lot of bang for your buck. What many people overlook is the amount of time it takes to build up the necessary authority behind a domain to earn a top ranking spot. Organic search optimization alone will take a while, but paid search can put you right up in the top spots. You may have to pay more for keywords, but the ROI of having a top ranking website is well worth it.

  1. You have more control.

Google can basically change what your listing says at any time, so there’s really no guarantee on what your meta, title tags, etc. will say. When you work through the paid search platform

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Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Best Tools to Perform an SEO Audit


Editor’s Note: This post was originally publish in April 2012 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Because SEO results are always changing, it’s easy to make mistakes along the way without even realizing what you’re doing wrong. Seeing results from your SEO strategy is a long process, and there may very well come a time when you aren’t seeing the results you want. That’s why it’s so important to perform an SEO audit every few months to make sure you’re on the right track.

For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, an SEO audit is something you perform to analyze your current strategy and the results coming as a direct result. If you are missing opportunities or making mistakes, an SEO audit will look at your past efforts and determine where the problem lies.

There are people and companies you can hire to perform an SEO audit for you, but there are also plenty of tools you can utilize to do it yourself. Below is a list of some of the most popular and well-rated tools to help you perform an SEO audit on your own.

Top 5 SEO Audit Tools

1.Open Site Explorer – SEO Moz seems to do it all from great blog posts to great SEO services, and one of their newest software is Open Site Explorer. This software will give you up to 10,000 links to help you tell whether or not your link building is working. It will give you information about your competitors’ internal and external links, give you on-page optimization suggestions, and will sync with Google Analytics to help you get analysis on your traffic.

open-site-explorer Best Tools to Perform an SEO Audit2. Woorank – Woorank is an awesome resource that’s always keeping tabs on the latest and greatest of SEO news and tools. Their auditing tool allows you to run an instant website review that will reveal how your website is performing across 70+ different metrics. Over 75,000 different sites are reviewed each month on this tool, making it a trusted resource for webmasters looking to improve their site performance.

woorank Best Tools to Perform an SEO Audit3. Ahrefs – Crawl reports, position trackers, and content exploration-oh my! This tool is a popular favorite for everything from keyword exploration to on page optimization. Ahrefs is incredibly detailed, giving users a full picture of not just how there site is performing, but where there’s room for improvement. The thoroughness of this auditing tool makes it a top choice.

ahrefs Best Tools to Perform an SEO Audit4. Screaming Frog– Like Ahrefs, Screaming Frog is another one of my favorite, go-to tools. There are a handful of different versions to choose from, but in short, Screaming Frog’s SEO spider tool will crawl your site pages and analyze SEO performance. Check out the video below to learn more.

screaming-frog Best Tools to Perform an SEO Audit5. DeepCrawl – This SEO audit tool is no joke, and true to the name, it digs deep into the functions of your website. The in-depth reports crawl millions of pages and reveal key insights regarding load time, links, title, URL length, and more. Most impressively, DeepCrawl has a scheduling feature that allows you to keep a recorded history of all the changes you make, task employees with specific corrections, and continue running regular audits.

deepcrawl Best Tools to Perform an SEO Audit


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Monday, 21 November 2016

3 Last Minute Social Media Ideas to Target Holiday Shoppers


The bridging of e-commerce and social media has taken off in recent years, and as the holidays close in, there’s no better time to launch a campaign. Shoppers are now accustomed to seeing advertisements and promotions, and the integration of an effective social media campaign-especially right before black Friday and cyber Monday-has serious potential to drive traffic and sales.

It might be the week of Thanksgiving, but it’s still not too late to throw together a few last minute social media ideas to target holiday shoppers. Check out some of these ideas and get started today.

  1. Give thanks.

Since many consumers will be celebrating Thanksgiving this week, a “give thanks” campaign is a great way to interact with them. Your brand can push an image or post that expresses something you’re thankful for that rings true to your brand, and asks others to share what they’re thankful for.

In such a social media push, the sentimental value is what reaches users. You aren’t necessarily promoting products or enticing followers with the hope of turning them into customers, but rather reaching them on a more human level. The personalization of your brand makes you more relatable, which sticks with consumers long after the holidays pass.

  1. Have a photo contest.

I once suggested this as a marketing idea for the Fourth of July, but it can be recycled into just about any holiday or season. A photo contest is a quick and easy way to gain followers while attracting customers. All you have to do is create a post on your social media channels that explains the terms of the photo contest, and offer some kind of prize for the winner(s).

For prizes you can offer cash, gift cards, a free item, or anything else your brand has to offer. People jump at giveaways, and with all the shopper traffic the holidays generate it’s a perfect time to host such a contest.

  1. Promote time-sensitive offers.

A little urgency goes a long way, especially in the frenzy of holiday shopping, and a time-sensitive offer might be the last factor your customers need to make a purchase. Promoting a post that offers free shipping for a limited amount of time or a BOGO deal is a great way to entice both clicks and purchases.

Something to keep in mind:

The main thing to keep in mind is the importance of activity. Consumers are exposed to many brands, especially during peak shopping seasons, and remaining present and relevant among your users requires consistent and compelling activity across all platforms.

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Friday, 18 November 2016

4 Steps to Prepare for Cyber Monday Shoppers


Cyber Monday is right around the corner, which means it’s time to cash in on the holiday shopping fever. In 2015, cyber Monday sales in the U.S. topped $3 billion in total revenues, and holiday online shopping alone rakes in almost $95 billion-and that’s a figure that increases every year.

Despite it being such a profitable time of year, you can’t expect to have huge success with holiday shoppers without putting in taking some extra steps to prepare and putting in some work. Here are 5 simple ways you can ensure you website is ready for cyber Monday shoppers.

  1. Handle the traffic.

Your e-commerce site will likely get much more traffic on the biggest online shopping holiday of the year than it does every other day, and that could cause some glitches. The spike in traffic might negatively affect your site speed, or even crash your site entirely.

To prepare for this, talk to your web host in advance, and see if your bandwidth can be increased to speed up your website.

  1. Create gift guides.

As a loyal online shopper, I LOVE when brands create holiday gift guides.  It’s a helpful resource that allows holiday shoppers to view products as potential gifts for stocking stuffers, a hostess gift, for their friends, or maybe even assemble their own wish lists. Check out Madewell’s “Gift Well” guide:

Madewell 4 Steps to Prepare for Cyber Monday Shoppers

The categorization of gifts within certain price ranges and the top items facilitates a pleasant and streamlined shopping experience. Creating a gift guide as a landing page could drive conversions significantly during this holiday season.

  1. Implement live chat.

Excellent customer service is always in season, but it’s especially necessary when you’re going to be swamped with customers. So, what can you do when you’re customers aren’t actually in a store, but on your website? I recommend implementing a live chat feature. Take a look at how Patagonia does it:

Livechat 4 Steps to Prepare for Cyber Monday Shoppers

Customers are bound to have questions before they check out and complete a transaction. Will it shit in time? Is it on sale? Is there a gift wrapping option? Having a live chat feature gives those customers a channel through which they can ask their questions, making a completed transaction more likely.  You can easily add this through a chat software service, such as Olark.

  1. Prepare your inventory.

The last thing you want is to run out of products when there’s profit to be made! Prepping your inventory before cyber Monday is crucial to being prepared.

Go back and see how much you typically sell of an item on big sale holidays. You might even analyze how much traffic your website received last cyber Monday to determine how much of everything you’ll need this year.

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Thursday, 17 November 2016

4 Facebook Advertising Tips for the Holidays


If you haven’t been working on your holiday advertising game plan since September, you’re actually late to the party. Many successful marketers start holiday-specific advertising early in the fall to get exposure among users and influence consumer shopping early on, especially on Facebook. In fact, I can recall seeing gift-giving, holiday-related advertisements on Facebook as early as the beginning of September.

The good news is that if you haven’t made any advertising moves yet, there’s still time.

More than half of the people in the United States say Facebook is somewhat or very influential on their holiday shopping. The platform has become a super spot for e-commerce, as strategic posting and visual ads are wildly successful among users. Here are few ways you can make the most of Facebook advertising over the holidays.

  1. Decide who you’re targeting.

Having a little clarity about your target audience will help you focus your ads with better precision. Are you going to try and reach your loyal, existing customers? Are you trying to reach out to new customers? Maybe both?

Depending on your answers to these questions, your approach to constructing an advertisement will vary. Get to know the audience you’re speaking to before you actually start speaking to them and you’ll produce ads that yield high conversions.

  1. Retarget, retarget, retarget.

Retargeting-the practice of advertising to users your brand has previous experience, exposure, or transactions with-has an impressive transaction improvement rate. If there’s one sure way to drive conversions and spike sales this holiday season, retargeting is it.

The Facebook Conversion Pixel and SDK can be added to websites and mobile apps, helping advertisers reach their audiences with specific, targeted ads. There are also plenty of other great retargeting tools that can help you reach your audience.

  1. Use ad targeting at holiday shoppers.

This sounds exactly like retargeting, but it’s a bit different. Facebook actually offers ads that are targeted specifically at holiday shoppers. So, if you have a highly engaged user who browses through content related to holiday shopping, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, you can use that as a segment to target specifically.

Facebook puts together the audience of engaged holiday shoppers, and your targeted ads get displayed to them. Last year, this targeted segment ran from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day and was accessible through the Facebook self-service dashboard>Behaviors>Seasonal and Events.

  1. Be strategic with your Facebook page maintenance.

Now is no time to get sloppy with the upkeep of your Facebook page. To thrive through the holidays, you must regularly populate your business/brand page with compelling content while responding and interacting with consumers as much as possible.

You can make your cover photo holiday related, ensure that your business contact information is updated and clickable, and execute all the musts for an awesome Facebook page.

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Monday, 14 November 2016

This Will Be the Biggest Visual Marketing Trend in 2017


As I’ve said before, visuals are a critical component of marketing strategy. They drive views, accelerate campaign calls to action, and stick with users better than a block of text.

Real time streaming through channels like Facebook live or Snapchat have helped some brands find significant success personalizing their business among users-putting a face to the company, if you will.

That’s why videos, more so than many other marketing strategies, are expected to be the biggest and most important visual trend in 2017.

Why It Works

As opposed to an article or another block of text, videos have the power to create gripping, lasting memories in the minds of consumers. Here’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about:

Now, I am probably not the target audience for this product as I don’t suffer from adult incontinence. However, I saw this commercial weeks ago, and still remember it in detail.

Why do I remember vivid details from a commercial for a product I don’t need?

Because it’s emotionally compelling and has a narrative that reinforces the product, making it stick. That’s why 51.9% of marketers across the world say videos have the best ROI, and why shoppers who view a video in the pre-purchase stages are 1.81 times more likely to make a purchase than non-viewers.

How to Get Started

To get started on your visual marketing story, start by messing around with video construction programs. Animoto and Shakr are good places to start, and you can always extend your learning of video production through an online course (Lynda has plenty).

If you don’t have someone in-house who is familiar with video, you can (and probably should) consider outsourcing the task. Outsourcing video production through a freelancer or other marketing resource will ensure a certain level of quality. And, in order to have an effective video, quality should be ranked high on your priority list.

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Friday, 11 November 2016

3 Tips for a High Performing Etsy Shop


Managing your own e-commerce can be a lot of work. Keeping up with maintenance, activity, and security, all while trying to promote the site, is a lot to balance. The demanding nature of e-commerce sites might be why many people looking to sell their goods online often opt for a platform requiring less work, such as Etsy.

Etsy, a peer-to-peer e-commerce platform, has been marked by significant success and growth throughout its development. In just a decade, Etsy grew from 5 to 54 million users, with an average of 25 million active shoppers and 1.6 million sellers. That ratio of shoppers to sellers is promising, and with a built-in consumer base, it’s easy to see why many artisans and goods providers opt for an Etsy shop in lieu of their own e-commerce site.

However, having an Etsy shop as opposed to your own e-commerce site doesn’t get you off the hook completely. There are still many avenues for the optimization of your Etsy site that can give you a top performing shop. Here’s how you can make sure you’re ready to compete.

  1. Fully develop your product.

There are 35 million products listed for sale on Etsy. So, before you can even start the optimization process, you need to fully develop your product to make sure it’s in the top tier of the other 35 million products it’s competing against. A few things to consider in evaluating your product:

  • Uniqueness: What does your product have that makes it superior to others?
  • Presentation: Is the delivery and presentation of this product exceptional?
  • Improve: How can you make what already exists better?

Thorough optimization starts with a well-developed, quality product, so make sure you have that as a starting point. Tip: seek feedback from existing/previous customers or host a survey if you need ideas on how to improve your products.

  1. Be thorough on your Etsy shop page.

Before you optimize your Etsy shop internally or externally, be sure to have all the necessary components of your Etsy page filled out with current information. On your page, you should have a banner showcasing the name and logo of your shop, location and sales information, an about section, links to social media accounts, policies, reviews, and much more. A polished shop looks like this:

unnamed 3 Tips for a High Performing Etsy Shop

This serves as an important point of branding for your business. You can easily create your own logo, add pictures, and make your shop look like the whole package.

I recommend using the About section you’re provided to make your brand more personable. Tell users who you are, what you make, how you got started. Putting a story behind the brand will compel users to give you their business over the next competitor.

Etsy2 3 Tips for a High Performing Etsy Shop

  1. Keywords, keywords, keywords.

Using the right keywords is an important part of Etsy optimization both internally and externally. To start, ask yourself what words and phrases potential customers would likely be searching for to come across your product. Conducting some keyword research to see with phrases and terms best suit your products will help you narrow down your focus for SEO. You can also look at the keywords your competitors are using their copy to get started.

Once you determine which keywords and phrases you should be targeting, use them in your product titles, descriptions, and Etsy page copy. The copy in the Announcement and About section of your Etsy shop play a critical role in how your page gets search for both within Etsy and on search engines at large. Curating this copy with unique, specific, and high quality keywords and descriptions will help drive your page’s searchability.

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Monday, 7 November 2016

Hackers Threaten Cyber Security of WordPress Sites


Unfortunate as it is for webmasters, there will never be a time when black hat SEO schemes cease to exist. Hacker culture only continues to advance and evolve right alongside online development, so the best thing you can do is ensure that your website is protected.

Sucuri, an authority in cyber security, monitors hacker trends and threats across the major CMS platforms and leans over 500 hacked sites daily. Just recently, they identified new occurrences of hacked subdirectories on WordPress.

What’s going on?

In short, the attackers hacked websites to profit from their SEO and take advantage of server resources. Where some attacks involve malicious redirects or defacements that change the appearance of the website in an easily recognizable way, this attack does not. Rather, the attackers install spam sites in the subdirectories of websites, which allow them to skate below the radar without detection.

Is this a big deal?

Yes, because a website owner who isn’t monitoring the security of their site probably won’t know about it until their site visitors make complaints, get blacklisted, or directly find out from their hosting provider.

Check out how normal a site with this type of hacking action looks:

sunnies Hackers Threaten Cyber Security of WordPress Sites

Oh no! What do we do?

Sucuri suggests utilizing Google Search Console. Website owners should check for unrelated search queries and excessive use of keywords like “free” and “cheap” as they are often used by spammers. You can also ensure the health of your website by securing your CMS and regularly monitoring your website for unusual activity, search queries, and transactions.

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Friday, 4 November 2016

Remarketing 101: What is it & why should you do it?


In the past few years, a digital marketing strategy has emerged that’s helping businesses, specifically ecommerce websites, connect with their consumer base. The strategy has even helped some businesses achieve transaction improvement increases as high as 726%.

I’m talking about retargeting campaigns and tactics, which in the past 5 years have become an integral part of successful online businesses. Not to be confused with remarketing, retargeting is a form of online advertising that targets consumers based on their previous user behaviors. Moreover, retargeting is advertising to the same web traffic more than once.

Let’s put this concept into context. I have a habit of filling online shopping carts on my favorite website, and then getting cold feet during the check out process. Since I’ve been on that website and demonstrated a certain set of behavior while showing interest in a specific set of products, I will more likely than not have retargeting strategies directed at me.

What does that look like? I might receive an email with a special discount to prompt the completion of my purchase. Or, a more likely case, I will see ads of the exact products I abandoned in my shopping cart all over platforms like Facebook.

Competing brands also use retargeting to target the consumers who have been on their competitor’s websites. So, even though I might have been looking at a pair of shoes on Zara’s website, it wouldn’t be surprising to see an advertisement for that same pair of shoes hosted from Amazon (it’s basically Amazon vs. all out there).

Retargeting, as a sub category of remarketing, has no shortage of strategies or applications. Take a look at this infographic produced by Chango:


image297 Remarketing 101: What is it & why should you do it?

As you can see, there is room for retargeting in almost every capacity relating to your audience. But why take the time to do that? What are the tangible benefits of retargeting?

Benefits of Retargeting

 First and foremost, it can (and in most cases does) drive the money you make from your ads above what you spend on them. For ecommerce websites, it all comes down to dollars and cents. And, since the overwhelming majority of ecommerce sites use retargeting, not implementing the strategy could put you at a steep disadvantage (i.e., your competitors will be retargeting your website traffic).

But wait-there’s more! Retargeting also drives a more favorable action from your consumers. When I abandon those shoes in my Zara shopping cart and then see them in an ad every day for a week, I’m highly likely to go back and purchase them. But next to the shoes is an ad for a suggested dress, also on Zara, that would look perfect with the shoes. That’s why retargeting directly facilitates the exact kind of purchasing traffic that ecommerce sites need.

Retargeting Tools

Now, obviously, if you have an SEO service provider or outsource your paid advertising/search, you can ask them about the retargeting strategies used for your website. But if you handle your own advertising and digital marketing campaigns, these are the crowd favorites for retargeting tools.

Google AdWords: You can put together a retargeting campaign right from the AdWords platform you’re used to. Being the apex of online advertising, Google also has a lot of information on how to use their retargeting tools and features, tips for getting started, and ways to track the impact it has on your site’s performance.

  • Price: Pay as you go 

AdRoll: AdRoll hooks a lot of ecommerce sites on with their claim that they make $10 for every one dollar spent. Though that might seem like an offer that’s too good to be true, it’s likely that your business will see returns reflective of that promise. Plus, through AdRoll you can manage customer segmentation and Facebook retargeting-the big kahunas of retargeting.

  • Price: Pay as you go 

Chango: If you’re interested in converting lost customers and raising brand awareness, Chango is the tool you should be using. Brands with conversions in mind have seen a 90% retention rate using Chango’s array of visual advertising tools.

  • Price: Based on cost per impressions

Retargeting has the potential to perform equally or out-perform search, so if you’re looking for a “next step” to drive sales on your ecommerce website, this is the action to be taking.

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Wednesday, 2 November 2016

6 Email Marketing Tips for Holiday Season


Halloween has passed, and the holiday season is now officially upon us. As discounted Halloween candy makes its way off the shelves, Thanksgiving themed decorations and treats are already proudly displayed. Every year the holiday season shopping frenzy seems to arrive earlier as shoppers make the move to knock out their holiday shopping in advance. As branders and business owners, you can cash in on this merchandise mindset by stepping up your holiday marketing efforts.

Being strategic with your marketing strategy is crucial during the holiday months. This time of year, consumers are poised and ready to shop, and goods and service providers will be aggressive in their attempts to reach their audience. This year, one of the best places to reach your consumers will be online, in their email inbox. The shift we’ve seen towards online shopping and email marketing during the holiday season is overwhelming, and the numbers speak for themselves.

Online Holiday Shopping Facts

  • U.S. holiday season desktop retail e-commerce sales: $56.43 billion (source)
  • Leading holiday shopping activity via smartphone: coupon search, 65%
  • 103 million Americans shopped online over Thanksgiving weekend of 2015 (source)
  • Fortune expects digital sales will hit $94.71 billion this Christmas period (source)
  • 93% of shoppers plan to take advantage of free shipping during the holidays (source)
  • 46% of holiday shopping will happen online (source)
  • 8 in 10 consumers who sign up for brand emails will make a purchase based on what they receive in their inbox (source)

These figures all point towards the same message: that holiday shopping has become an increasingly digital experience for consumers, and that it’s imperative for brands and marketers to accommodate that trend. This season, one of the best ways you can make that happen is through an email marketing campaign. You can target customers, drive sales, and place yourself right where the traffic is. Here are 6 email marketing tips for the holiday season to get you started.

  1. Welcome Emails

The holiday season is the perfect time to grow your email subscriber list. You’ve probably seen email sign-up sheets by the registers of stores before, and if you have a store location, that’s exactly what you should be doing. Put a little note at the top of a sign-up sheet that says “join our email list for special holiday offers!” and your email list will triple over the course of a few weeks.

When you have a new subscriber, send them a welcome email that lets them know you remember them and appreciate their subscribing. You might even sweeten the email up a bit by adding a special coupon or offer. I recently signed up for REI’s email list while shopping in the store and this is what I was sent the following day:

welcome_REI 6 Email Marketing Tips for Holiday Season

As a consumer, I was not only thrilled to receive an orientation email so soon, but was also excited to receive a welcome coupon. It adds incentive to remain subscribed to the emails and prompts customers looking for their next purchase to use their coupon.

  1. Freebies

Few things motivate consumers to spend like a free gift with purchase. And, to be perfectly honest, even the tiniest little freebie can prompt a customer to make a purchase because it feels like a waste not to. Here’s an example of a freebie email offer I recently received:

freebies_bando 6 Email Marketing Tips for Holiday Season

Now, do I really need or even want an “I heart pizza” pin? Probably not. But I can definitely find $50 worth of stuff I want from one of my favorite brands, and I do heart pizza, so why not? At the very least, you’ll get traffic to your website. Or, since 93% of shoppers plan to take advantage of it, your freebie could be a free shipping offer.

  1. Holiday Announcement

Sending a holiday announcement email prompts your subscribers to take a look at what you have to offer, and it can inspire purchases the consumer didn’t even know they would make. For example, Paper Source just sent out their holiday shop announcement:

announcement_papersource 6 Email Marketing Tips for Holiday Season

papersource2 6 Email Marketing Tips for Holiday Season

The presentation of their new products as well as the discounts on holiday cards and invitations makes seasonal shopping look exciting and fun. An enticing holiday announcement email will remind your subscribers that you’re there, ready, and open for business.

  1. Personalized Offers

Consumers respond well to personalization in their emails. You can send personalized suggestions based on a customer’s past purchases, birthday greetings, anniversary coupons, and more. Here’s an example Adidas sent me on my birthday:

bday_adidas 6 Email Marketing Tips for Holiday Season

A little birthday pick-me-up can make a business feel less like a brand and more like an old friend. That added personal touch goes a long way, and if nothing else, birthday coupons and deals will help you retain your email subscribers.

  1. Time Sensitive Offers

Flash sales and limited offer deals can drive foot traffic and site traffic very quickly. Perfect example-on Monday I received the following email from one of my favorite local boutiques:

flashsale_salondixie 6 Email Marketing Tips for Holiday Season

I stopped by on my lunch break and made a purchase, all because this email made me think it was an urgent, really good idea. You can use the same concept to push holiday shopper traffic and impulse buys.

  1. Email Surveys

Want to kill two birds with one glorious stone? Incentivize a survey with a special offer upon completion. Here’s how Kate Spade does it:

survey_katespade 6 Email Marketing Tips for Holiday Season

Most consumers really enjoying giving feedback, especially when there’s a participation prize. Use this busy holiday time to gain key insights on your brand’s performance while rewarding your most loyal customers.

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Monday, 31 October 2016

A Step by Step Guide to Getting Verified on Social Media


Managing social media accounts for your business can seem like a lackluster and tedious job. But the benefits of having a social presence across multiple platforms can really make a difference in how you connect with your audience. One way you can ease that social networking process is by seeking out social media verification for your business or personal account. It can significantly help with influence, consumer trust, and networking while also giving your brand an extra element of authority.

Verification started with Twitter, and the addition of the feature was pretty subtle. Its initial purpose was to flag celebrity accounts, but it has since evolved into a means for brands and influencers alike to outwardly authenticate their accounts.

Benefits of Being Verified on Social Media

It gives you credibility among your users. This is especially true for businesses targeting a younger crowd, because they’re likely to pay attention to who’s who on social media. Having that little blue verification badge helps convey the image that your brand is an authority figure worth following.

It eliminates the threat of copycat accounts. Granted, this is probably an issue that affects more celebrities and high end brands than it does the average business. But if you do happen to be a highly influential brand or individual, there are likely some users who would want to use the brand or influencer name in order to gain more followers, facilitate scams, and potentially even destroy reputation. Having a verified lets everyone know which account is the real deal.

The benefits are simple but impactful, and the process of social media verification is a painless process across most major platforms. Take a look at how it’s done.

Facebook for Influencers

FB_Tswift A Step by Step Guide to Getting Verified on Social Media

  • First make sure that the Facebook page is ready to roll. The “About” section should be completely filled out and with an updated profile picture. If your Facebook page (or really any social media account) doesn’t have regular posts and engagement, there’s really no point in verifying it.
  • Once you’ve gotten the nuts and bolts of your Facebook page squared away, go to Facebook’s “Request a Verified Badge” form, choose the type of page you’re verifying, and provide the necessary information.
    • You’ll need a digital copy of a government ID to submit as well as a link to your official website.

It can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks for Facebook to process your request, so be patient.

Facebook for Businesses

FB_patagonia A Step by Step Guide to Getting Verified on Social Media

  • After ensuring that your Facebook page is appropriately updated, select Settings at the top of your business page.
  • Then, General>Page Verification>Verify this Page>Get Started
  • Enter the public information for your business (phone #, language, country, etc.)
  • Click “Call Me Now” and Facebook will call with a verification code. Once you have it, enter the 4-digit verification code and continue.

Business page verification on Facebook typically only takes a few days.


twitter_samponder A Step by Step Guide to Getting Verified on Social Media

Twitter approves “account types maintained by users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business, and other key interest areas.” If you don’t fit into those categories, you really have no reason to verify your account. But if you do fit these criteria, get some verification tips from Twitter and follow these steps:

  • Again, make sure your profile information is fully updated. This includes contact information, pictures, “About” information, etc. Your tweets must also be set to public in order to be verified.
  • Submit your formal verification request on Twitter here.
  • Fill out the form with the standard information and tell Twitter why you deserve a little blue checkmark in 500 characters or less.

Turnover time for Twitter verification requests is about a week.


Insta_kimk A Step by Step Guide to Getting Verified on Social Media

Instagram is much more selective with who can be verified on their platform. Per the rules of the ‘Gram, “accounts representing well-known figures and brands are verified because they have a high likelihood of being impersonated.”

So, if you’re lucky enough to be a celebrity or big deal brand, Instagram will contact you and let you know. If not, there’s not a lot you can do. In the meantime:

  • Work on building your following and posting engaging material that users will respond well to.
  • Ensure that your profile contains as much relevant information as possible (it’ll help make it look official without being verified).

While social media verification can definitely be a positive way to legitimize your brand’s presence, it’s also important to remember that having a little blue badge next to your name isn’t everything. Always remember to focus on making your social media accounts-both business and personal-worth verification. That’s how you’ll gain followers, drive engagement, and maintain an impactful online presence.


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